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TMDL Implementation Plan

Thumb Run, Carter Run, Great Run, and Deep Run Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation Plan

What is a TMDL?
TMDL or Total Maximum Daily Load is the maximum amount of pollutant a water body can assimilate without surpassing the state water quality standard. The term is also used in reference to restoration plans that are developed for specific surface waters. If a body of water surpasses the water quality standard 10.5% of the time during an assessment period, the water body is placed on Virginia’s Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters.  Several factors such as degree of impairment, drainage basin size, and financial resources, are considered when determining if an impaired stream becomes part of the official TMDL program.

Are there designated TMDL waterways in Fauquier County?
Yes, Thumb Run, Carter Run, Great Run, Deep Run and Marsh Run (including its tributaries Browns Run and Craig Run) are listed on Virginia’s Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters for violating the fecal coliform standard. Furthermore, these watersheds have a TMDL implementation plan for restoration that has been underway for several years. If you would like to know if you live in an impaired watershed, please contact John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District at (540) 347-3120 ext. 3 or view the maps Thumb Run, Carter Run, Great Run, Deep Run, Marsh Run Including Browns and Craig Runs.

What is a TMDL implementation plan?
The TMDL implementation process included studies to determine the potential sources of bacteria such as livestock, humans, pets, and wildlife. Specific strategies to reduce pollutants reaching impaired waters were identified. Community involvement was emphasized during the developmental phase of the TMDL process. Public meetings were held to inform constituents and a steering committee and work groups were established to provide guidance, seek input and address concerns.

What types of bacteria are monitored?
In Virginia, surface waters are periodically monitored using standardized biological, chemical and physical water quality assessments. Most of the rivers and streams in the TMDL program are monitored for Fecal Coliform Bacteria (FCB). FCB originates from the intestines of warm-blooded animals such as humans, livestock, and wildlife. Higher levels of FCB in impaired waters may indicate the presence of dangerous viral and bacterial pathogens. For more information on monitoring efforts, click on the individual watersheds: Thumb Run, Carter Run, Great Run, Deep Run, Marsh Run, Browns Run and Craig Run.

What steps must be taken to meet water quality standards in the impacted watersheds?

The TMDL implementation plan outlines several methods to meet water quality standards. Methods include:

  • Excluding of most/all livestock from streams,
  • Reducing non-point source loads on pasture and cropland in the watersheds,
  • Identifying and correcting all straight pipes and failing septic systems,
  • Reducing pet bacteria loads on residential land, and
  • Reducing wildlife bacteria loads.

What is John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District’s role in the TMDL implementation plan?
Through a grant agreement with Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, John Marshall SWCD is responsible for enacting a public relations campaign to increase awareness of TMDL implementation goals and administering financial assistance to farmers for conservation practices in designated areas.

What Progress Has Been Made?

Outreach and Education:

  • Outreach efforts have included news articles, a series of mailings to landowners in the TMDL watersheds, and presentations to community organizations and school groups

  • The District also hosted two Twilight Farm Dinners and Tours and a public Information Night to provide landowners with an opportunity to view installed BMPs, and speak with contractors and past participants.

Installation of Agricultural Conservation Practices:

  • By Dec. 2011, 49 agricultural projects were completed in the target watersheds
  • Over 121,850 feet of stream bank has been protected
  • Over 160 acres was converted from cropland to permanent vegetative cover
  • Over $600,000 in TMDL cost-share funds was expended to the benefit of the local economy

JMSWCD staff continue to identify new methods of outreach to target landowners in the TMDL watersheds and have several new projects in the developmental stage.

What are the financial incentives to participating in the TMDL program?
Federal and State Best Management Practices (BMP’s) Cost-Share programs will pay between 50-90% of the cost to install agricultural conservation practices to improve water quality.
For a description of the conservation practices offered, click here.

What about residential programs?
Currently, property owners in the TMDL watersheds may also be eligible to receive financial assistance with maintenance, repair or replacement of their onsite sewage disposal system. The funds will apply for a minimum of 50% of the costs for all qualified applicants and up to 75% for those below the median income in Fauquier County. As of December 2011, 158 septic tank pump outs and 31 septic tank repairs have been completed and 8 new systems have been installed. For more information on the residential cost-share program in Thumb, Carter, Great or Deep Run, contact Fauquier County Health Department at 540-347-6363 Ext. 11.

Property owners in the Marsh, Craig and Browns Run watersheds, should contact the John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District at 540-347-3120 Ext 3 or email

How else are water quality issues being addressed in Fauquier County’s TMDL areas?
“It’s Your Doodie!”, a new awareness campaign promoting the proper management of pet waste, is being conducted region wide. For more information, visit the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission website at

To learn more about TMDL efforts in Fauquier County, contact Kris Jarvis with the John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District at (540) 347-3120 Ext. 3.

Carter Run Watershed Success Story

Date Last Modified: 05/14/2015


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